Changes to improve Foster Care in Australia
Changes to improve Foster Care in Australia
Why this petition matters
Hi I'm Stacey,
I've been a foster carer for almost 5 years now in WA and I can honestly say that I'm shocked and outraged by the whole system. I've now spent years feeling heartbroken frustrated and helpless and that is why I'm finally going to try and do something that can help affect change I don't want to remain silent and feel ashamed that I didn't try. One of the things I've said the most is that the whole system isn't about the kids. Over and over again I see everyone else's rights put above the needs of the child.
I am trying to gain some signatures so that when i write to the minister of child protection Simone McGurk in Western Australia she will know that there are others that want change too.
The current system of reunification isn't working its a very complex issue and I don't claim to be able to fix it. I do want people to start working on it though and I think our kids deserve better.
There are three changes that I am asking for. I think these are a good starting point.
- Seperate Case Workers.
In the current system the caseworker assigned to the child is also assigned to the parent and the way the law works with granting the initial interim protection orders reunification steps start immediately and are the first priority. Let that sink in - we've just rescued a child from horrible abuse and before we find them a permanent home or make sure they are healed both physically and emotionally they have to have visitation with the perpetrator of that abuse. Above all else! Their caseworker is located in the office closest to where the parent resides not where the child is placed sometimes 100's of kilometres away. I've had caseworkers that have never even met the child or visited them in our home they know nothing about the child but are very close in relationship to the parent even calling then nicknames or being casual in reference. I've had caseworkers allow visitations when the child is sick even once wheeling a child out of ICU to a meeting room at the hospital. I've had traumatised infants be taken to prisons to meet parents they hardly know or haven't seen in years met because they have demanded to see the child. All focus is on the parent and reunification. I compare it to a lawyer working both sides of the case but his salary is reliant on the reunification case winning.
In order to ensure that the child's best interest is being prioritised equally then they MUST be assigned their own casework that works as the child's advocate only. It is the department of child protection after all. Maybe the reunification team should not be under the same budget.
2. The same recruitment measures for family carers.
Family Carers should be assessed under the same stringent guidelines that all general foster carers are measured by not just automatically approved. This is self explanatory but to paint a picture if we are rescuing a child from a parent we can't be naive enough to think that they will be completely safe with a relative. Giving a child to their abusers own abuser is not going to help break generational cycles. Placing the child in a home that the abuser is familiar with is also dangerous and negligent. Family care placements don't have the same level of follow up checks on the child's living conditions or welfare.
3. Visitation rights for long term placements that get moved after 2 years.
Foster Care is not a glorified baby sitting job we are raising these children with love and in most if not all cases our homes are the first positive, loving and stabile places these children have ever had removing us from their life in itself is traumatising to the child and us carers. Allowing ongoing contact can only be seen as a positive for all concerned. It takes a village to raise a child having a large extended family even if its non biological is a beautiful gift we can give to these vulnerable children we want them to leave the system better off. It will also help the over all mental health of the foster parents to know that a child they love sometimes for many many years is still happy and healthy.
I will leave you with this thought.
We would never tell a domestic violence victim or a rape victim or someone that had been forced to take drugs and alcohol causing them life long disabilities to have to go back to their perpetrator. Why then when the victim is a child is that our first priority?
Thank you for your time.